A recent Allstate commercial poses the question of how, in the future, we will view the current economic crisis. More or less, that question is, “Will we remember this as the Great Depression or the depression that made us great?” The moral of this anti-materialism, pro-family ad is that when people simplify, their life gets better. Ask any unemployed parent and you’ll know for sure that this isn’t true, but it’s a nice sentiment none-the-less.
In today’s “USA Today” there was an interesting article about how the economy has forced some families to pull their children out of non-public (i.e., private or independent) schools and put them back into public school. In my opinion, this is a good thing. There are certain symbols of our country that deserve to not only be preserved but celebrated and I think that public schools are right up there with Lady Liberty, Election Day, and the national parks. Basically, the way I see it, the more diverse the school community, the better the school. Likewise, the larger the pool of involved parents, the better it is for the school. I believe in free choice and so my heart goes out to folks who can no longer afford “the best possible school” for their children, but there’s a whole country full of Americans out there who are in the same boat. Climb on in, grab an oar, and start rowing, people. We’re all headed in the same direction. Of course we all want what’s best for our kids.
The public schools can’t fix themselves. They are underfunded and undersupported as it is. There is also a dearth of intellectual capital which I hope can be remedied by the reintroduction of highly-educated families into PTA’s and PTO’s. As more kids return to their local schools, districts will have less need to shut down buildings and overcrowd the remaining classrooms. Sports programs, from freshman to varsity, might once again be sustainable. Let's bring back the school play! I believe that the public schools can be as good as the public allows them to be. When families are sending their kids and grandkids, nieces, nephews, and cousins to a public school, then that many more people want to see the school succeed; that many more people will work to see the school succeed.
According to the US Department of Education, over the past three years enrollment in public schools has grown by 1% while it has dropped by 2.5% in non-public schools. I see a silver lining in this cloud. I see a chance for more of our public schools to be great. Keeping in mind that this is a deeply personal issue for many people, please let us know how you see it...
The article: http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2010-01-06-1Apublicprivate06_CV_N.htm?obref=obinsite
And another: http://www.allbusiness.com/education-training/education-systems-institutions/11818830-1.html